Following some discussion about how to begin our journey of documenting and exploring the stories produced by the Nethergate Writers, in relation to the River Tay, a group of us undertook a ‘story/field’ trip yesterday.
We began at The Law, an extinct volcano–a striking feature of the Dundee landscape, and a great location from which to view a panoramic Tayside vista. The trip was an opportunity to think about what kind of images, text, and voiceover we may want to use when producing short films set in the surrounding landscape. It also provided us a chance to explore what limitations there may be and what new opportunities we may discover as we create our stories.
From The Law we travelled west to Riverside Drive and the Rail Bridge, visiting the recently unveiled memorial to victims of the 1879 Rail Bridge Disaster. The Rail Bridge is an especially iconic feature of the area’s landscape and bound up in stories of loss, hope, accountability, remembering and love.
The memorial includes the names of those lost on the fateful journey when sections of the first rail bridge collapsed, and include a poem by Ian Nimmo White.
We then explored another feature of this literally literary (!) landscape: the walkway adjacent to the River Tay and Rail Bridge, where William McGonagall’s poetry is engraved in the pavement. Loved by some and critiqued by many–McGonagall’s poems seem an appropriate addition to this Tayside location.
Following the walkway provided an opportunity to reflect on the rail bridge disaster and newer changes to the surrounding built environment. The River has been the central player in a range of dramatic events.
After a sudden shower and recuperation at ‘The Horn’ cafe, a wee local culinary treasure (if you look closely you can even spot a very geographically inclined cow!), we headed out to our final stop at the Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS) Visitor Centre, at Fair Maid’s House, Perth.
At the Visitor Centre Communications Officer, Alexa Martin, and Collections and Information Covenor, Margaret Wilkes, generously provided a route through the diverse maps, collections, exhibitions and activities with which the RSGS is currently involved. We also learned that the RSGS currently has a Writer-in-Residence, Hazel Buchan Cameron, who will be utilising the collections as a source of creative inspiration. This is exciting news–and hopefully we can connect with Hazel, and establish further connections and collaborations with the RSGS in relation to our Ties to the Tay project.